Dashcams: Another Source for Enforcement


Let’s start with some interesting videos



The above videos, whilst may seemed impressive demonstrates how some morons rather endanger other road users so that they can have cheap thrills on the road. Why they can’t book the racing track for a day and burn rubbers to their heart’s content?

While the country may be buzzing with the findings by the PAC on 1MDB, the Citizen Declaration and now the “admission” from the Saudi Foreign Minister (is it?). For me, it is a foregone conclusion. It is rather pointless to talk about accountability, transparency and responsibility at this point of time. After all, it is now argued that putting signature on a formal document does not mean you know what is happening and as such you are not liable. Didn’t I say that the whole affair is a foregone conclusion? Now the focus would be on the upcoming Sarawak Elections and one hopes that the voters would be able to see beyond the sweet promises to do this and that and look at what is best for the nation in the long run.

Anyway if you have not been busy keeping up with the local political circus, you would have heard that the Government is fine tuning the enforcement of traffic laws in the country. Finally something worth the taxpayers money and time. Firstly as many of the “good things” that they have done in the past, they looked what they had in their pockets and decided to merge and RENAME them (effectiveness comes much later):-

The Automated Enforcement System (AES) will be merged with the Kejara demerit system and renamed as AWAS (Awareness Automated Safety System).

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (pic), who disclosed this, said this was to ensure a more holistic approach to reduce the number of road accidents.

“Whether you pay your fines or not, your marks will still be deducted if you are found to have committed a traffic offence,” he said during an interview on TV3 last night.

(Source)

Hmmm, that sounded fair enough but it only addresses the punishment aspect of the traffic law and not the enforcement. Still, it is a start. If you are caught, you will be slapped with both fine and demerit points but you need to be caught in the first place. No word on increasing the number of AES cameras in this country – just 14 of them and I know for sure that most motorists well behave before they pass the AES camera and become a speed demon once they have passed it. What about drivers who are driving dangerously, abuse the emergency lanes, changing lanes without any indicators and use vehicles are not safe to be on the road (I even saw a police car last night without any rear nights on).

Then there was more news on the traffic law fines (which did not go well with the police’s earlier plans to increase the fine):-

The Ministry of Transport is proposing to reduce the rate of traffic summons from RM300 to RM150 for certain traffic offences, said its Deputy Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi.

He said, however the proposal must be approved by the Cabinet and amendments to the Road Transport Act 1987 must be made before implementing it.

“It is still a proposal between the ministry and the government for certain offences with a certain time period given, for instance RM150 must be paid within six months, if they fail to do so, the amount would be increased, you delay, you pay more,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby here today.

(Source)

Seriously I don’t get the rationale to go soft on traffic law offenders by giving huge discounts, cooling off period, close of one eyes and reduction of the fine for some traffic laws? Didn’t they break the law in the first place? Didn’t they cause inconvenience to others (imagine the idiots who double parked and blocked the roads? We don’t have huge trucks to plough our way through) or those had posed serious danger to other road users (and themselves)?

One ex-IGP even went on to say this:-

Given the gloomy economic outlook with many Malaysians struggling with higher living costs and the threat of layoffs loom for many job sectors, the IGP’s threat to hit motorists where it hurts most – their wallets, seem like an inspired approach to tackle the perennial problem of traffic accidents and fatalities.

This move, as expected are not well received by the public saying that it is a burden with the current economy situation.

In a phone interview with Malaysian Digest, former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan expressed his opinion that the move is untimely.“I think with the current high cost of living the suggestion is not relevant. Imposing higher fines now is like pouring fuel on a fire.” – Former IGP Tan Sri
Musa Hassan

“I think with the current high cost of living the suggestion is not relevant. Imposing higher fines now is like pouring fuel on a fire.

“Because it will cause resentment from the people,” he pointed out.

(Source)

Sorry to say this but the traffic fines are not taxes. It is not GST. It is imposed on people who break the traffic laws. If they feel that it is going to be a burden in this current economy situation then they should abide by the traffic laws, follow the speed limit, they should use the indicators when changing lane, they should drive responsively, blah, blah. No one forces the traffic fines down their throat. The opposition morons used to say the same thing.

The problem in Malaysia have always been enforcement, enforcement and enforcement.

I have wrote on enforcement in the past (no point repeating them again in detail here) and you can read them here:-

Some of the hardcore traffic offenders know that the enforcement is seriously lacking and it takes months or even years before the law comes to collect the unpaid summonses (by then, there will be a huge discount waiting for them). Some politicians will capitalise on the situation and argue that the fines / punishment are burdensome to the people and the whole strict enforcement would be on hold until further studies are made. This is the wrong way to do it.

Strict enforcement is the only way to do it.

Start off with AES cameras – so far it has been very effective and operates 24 x 7, rain or shine and it had done a good job to date (almost 2 million summonses issued). The present 14 AES cameras are simply not enough. Then the enforcement on the ground need to be revamped as well – if you break the law, you have to pay for the consequences.

In addition to AES, there is another source for enforcement – dash cams (either from law abiding road users or from the traffic offenders themselves). Look at the videos in the beginning post again. Don’t you think there is enough video evidence to book some of the thrill seekers who treat the public road as their own personal race track, oblivious of the danger posed to other road users? Start looking into this angle as well as another mean to identify traffic offenders and coming hard, very hard on them.

Don’t give discounts, don’t treat these traffic fines like some mandatory tax that is burdening some poor souls out there – it will not help to reduce number of traffic laws broken but instead will only encourage them. Besides, some of these traffic offenders are driving cars that costs more than what an average Joe earns the whole year.

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Speed Demons on Highway 2


(There is always a limit to everything we do and a limit to speeding is there for obvious reasons. Slow down and you will live longer. Some idiots would never learn no matter what happens when one speeds over the speed limit on the highway)

Driving on Malaysian highways often promises a good story for this blog and it is the case for this week and one that deal with speed demons on highways. About 9 years ago, I had a close encounter with a speed demon and a recent trip north saw  another close encounter with another speed demon.

But first read this first:-

At least 37 people were killed when a bus in a mountainous area of Malaysia plunged into a ravine on Wednesday, the country’s Bernama news agency said, citing rescue officials. There also were 16 people injured, and they were sent to hospitals, the report said.

There were 53 people on board. Among the dead were Bangladeshi, Thai and Chinese nationals. The bus driver also died. The bus was descending from Genting Highlands when it fell into a 200-feet-deep ravine, Bernama reported. The incident occurred near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

(Source)

Back in August last year, the country saw one of the worst accident relating to express buses. Before that, back in 2011, there was another horrible accident involving express/tour buses where 28 people perished. And beginning this year when it comes to express buses, it was not good news either:-

Three people died and at least 14 injured when an express bus they were travelling in crashed at KM107.2 of the North-South Expressway, from Pagoh to Yong Peng today. The bus driver was believed to have lost control of the vehicle, causing it to crash into a railing and landing at the side of the highway at about 2pm.

The Star Online reported that the bus was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Johor with 17 passengers, including a number of foreigners. Two men and a 10-year-old boy were killed while seven passengers suffered serious injuries.

(Source)

Last weekend, we had to do a quick trip up North and it was sort of a last minute decision.

My mother in law was not well and my wife despite postponing the call to go and visit her somehow knew that time was up to visit her mother. So instead of going during CNY when one can expect sheer madness on highways, we decided to go one week earlier and come back the very next day. The highway was almost empty and we actually had empty tables at the famed R&R. There was the usual big bike convoys dominating the fast lane and having little care for the 110 km/h speed limit. The same went to Singapore registered cars – they were driving on the fast lane like they were on a private race track. The same also went to those with luxury car where the RM300 ticket for speeding would hardly made any dent on their pockets.

It was not the first time I encounter them but I seriously think that some of the idiots who uses the highway should be barred from using vehicles for life. I mean if they are bloody ignorant of the law, then at least they should have some common sense. They would either drive above the speed limit like their back is on fire (or hog the fast lane) and when confronted with another faster vehicle, they would dash into the slower lane without sense of space or the courtesy to put on the indicators to warn the slower traffic on the left. Some would cut in too close for comfort, completely ignoring the fact that there is another vehicle on the slow lane.

Then towards Ipoh, we saw something that left us speechless. There was a car overtook us on the fast lane and I know it was driven above the speed limit (I was already driving at 110 km/h then). Following just behind that speeding car is a police car but that too is driven above the speed limit. Well, I am fine with that but what irked me was that the police did nothing to pull over the speeding car and give the driver a speeding ticket. Perhaps the policeman had a bad stomach ache and rushing to the nearest toilet. Perhaps. But then again, it sends the wrong message and if the enforcement agencies keeps one eyes closed, you can be assured that there would not be the end of fiery deaths on the highway.

The stay with the in-laws was pretty short (it usually do, ha ha) but enough for me to take a good break for the trip back. My wife had fulfilled her part of the obligation and that was good enough, at least for now. The next day as usual we decided to leave early to KL. My sister in law and her 2 year old daughter followed us back and since there was plenty of space in my car, we were more than happy to accommodate them. I hardly drove more than 90 km/h and kept to the 110 km/h speed limit at certain part of the highway. And with a good selection of songs in my flash drive, it was a relaxing ride back.

aeroline_speeding2

(It took mere minutes for these 2 buses – there is another in front of this bus – to disappear from my sight despite we were traveling at about 110 km/h)

Some kilometers before Behrang (about 11.20 am on Sunday), I noticed something on my rear mirrors – not one but two speeding high deck express buses (High deck just like the high deck bus where 28 people died back in 2011). Knowing on how they usually fly through on the fast lane (and sometimes on the slow lane, adding the risks to other road users), I maintained on the middle lane and I was already cruising at 100 – 110 km/h. The first bus (Aeroline) bus flies through on the slow lane and quickly cut into the middle lane, a few paces in front of me. The second bus came right behind my car in the middle lane and started to flash his headlights (if we has stopped, I would bashed his head for coming up so close, endangering me and my family and flashing his headlights like a big dirty bully). He was trying to bully me to move over from the middle lane but since it was not safe to move over, I continued to drive on the middle lane, hoping that the idiot would move over on the fast lane. After all, he was faster than me – both buses was flying at about 140 km/h!

I got my son to snap some photos to be passed over to JPJ (hopefully they will blacklist these drivers) whilst I concentrated on driving. And I was quite angry too. Not only the idiots were endangering me and other road users with their deadly driving, they were also endangering the passengers. But the, when I went to Aeroline’s website, I read the biggest joke from the company titled “Safety”:-

AEROLINE coaches are built on high quality imported Scania (Sweden)chassis. AEROLINE operates its very own dedicated maintenance facility that is manned by experienced mechanics to maintain the coaches to our own standards, by using only quality parts.

Furthermore, each AEROLINE captain is hand picked and undergo regular training and monitoring. With the aid of GPS tracking system, our command centre is able to monitor the operation of each bus in real time, thus ensuring every journey a safe one.

(Source)

Ya right, perhaps who ever wrote that “safety” statement should hand pick himself to take up a trip in their Aeroline buses where driving at more than 140 km/h and weaving in & out dangerously on a high deck buses meant nothing for these drivers. One wrong move weaving in and out of traffic or one tire blow out or encounter with one inexperienced driver and you will have another 20 – 30 passenger on the ditch and dead. No matter what the politicians, the bus company owners & management and the public may say after a tragedy, it will not bring back the dead. But unfortunately Aeroline is not the only bus company that I noticed speeding above the speed limit (but that does not mean they are not guilty of sheer recklessness). Another bus (from another bus company) just behind these Aeroline buses was also speeding at 140 km/h and was also weaving in and out of traffic. Within minutes, all these buses had disappeared from our sight as far as we can see up front.

And one main reason for this is because there is a serious lapse of enforcement. It is a fact that we fare badly when it comes to enforcement and it is not due to the laziness of the enforcement agencies. Sometimes the need for a stricter enforcement is curtailed, not by shortcomings of the enforcement agencies but rather due to the short sighted & (very, very) dumb politicians who flip-flops enforcement related policies on weak reasons and shout for all the wrong reasons.

This is where we have to relook into the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) on a larger scale. This is where also, rather unfortunately, the Pakatan fellows failed us miserably – yes, initially there seemed to be some “questions” in awarding the AES implementation to the private companies but that was not the main concern here. It was clear that the Pakatan politicians were barking on the wrong tree and had been asking all the wrong questions. The main concern is to ensure a strict adherence to the traffic rules and AES would have provided that unbiased, all weather, 24 x 7 automated enforcement that the other enforcement agencies may not been to able to provide effectively.

And now, nation wide AES implementation seemed to be on hold and that is allowing more idiots to break the traffic laws on a greater scale. They know that they cannot be caught (forget the yearly Ops Sikap – one, it is done during major holidays when the highways are packed thus reducing the opportunity to fly like you were on a race track and two, these drivers know that the police is out there in a greater force to nab these offenders) . That is why on other “non festival” days bus drivers like the above Aerobus drivers do not hesitate for a second to drive dangerously on the highways and endangering others on the road. Some unlucky ones end up killing their passengers and the whole vicious cycles starts again.

And there is another aspect of strict enforcement, ahem, since Najib been going around saying that the Government does not enough money for subsidies and what not. The more drivers nabbed for violation of traffic rules (and trust me, you will get a truckload of them without a sweat), the more fines can be collected and these money can be re-used for critical Government expenses (flying the fat lady overseas in private jets however does not count).

Just imagine that in the first 1 week of the AES in operation, it captured 63,558 offenses (an average of one offense every two-and-a-half minutes). Even if you use a modest RM50 fine per offense (speeding ticket will cost RM300), the Government can easily collect RM300,000 per week. Imagine how much they can collect on monthly basis. That is a lot of money that can be used again to beef up enforcement (more AES cameras) and make the roads safer again. Insurance claims has not been cheap as well – “net claims paid out for bodily injury and property damage due to road accidents in the first nine months of 2013 have risen to RM4.1 billion, compared to RM3.68 billion in the same period in 2012”.

We may have one of the best highways in the region (we still do) but we also have the 3rd world mentality when it comes to using them in the right way and in a safe way. You can be rest assured that you going to have more buses speeding above the speed limit and more deaths from unsafe speeding vehicles if attitude and enforcement does not change.

Please keep this mind as you balik kampung this Chinese New Year. Enjoy the holidays and have a plenty of rest.

AES: Asking the Right Questions


UPDATE 1: Read FAQ from JPJ on AES here

Back to the original post

Oh dear, another opposition politician jumping to defence the criminals on the road…

(It’s about time – a simple flow on how the Automated Enforcement System works. It covers speeding & beating the red light offenses but what about other types of offenses like road hogging, cutting in and out of traffic without any proper indication, riding around without wearing any helmet? When we can have a similar automated enforcement system for it? Image source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com / TheStar)

The Barisan Nasional Government in awarding the Automated Enforcement System (“AES”) Project to Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd and ATES Sdn Bhd whereby the two private companies in return for installing cameras in 831 locations will be entitled to a share of fines, of which fines for unpaid traffic summonses for 2000 to 2009 amounted to RM5.8 billion, has created a situation where there is a conflict of interest amounting to gross derogation of the Government’s duty to promote road safety.

Under the business model the companies will receive a share of the fines on three levels. At the first level each of the companies firstly will receive RM16.00 for each traffic summons for the first 5 million summonses issued, for summons issued after 5 million the companies receive as the second level payment 50% of the balance of the summonses up to RM270 million per year and after RM270 million they receive further payments at the third level of 7.5% of the balance of the summonses. The companies’ internal projection is that they will achieve an internal rate of return of 17% based on 10 million summonses issued each year.

Revenue tied to summonses issued

By reason of revenue being tied to the number of summonses issued, the business model for the two companies and Ministry of Transport will depend on ensuring that the number of speeding violations must not be less than 10 million each year and if they are to increase their profits and growth over the years the number of speeding violations must by necessity be increased accordingly.

The Government in turning the issuance of traffic summonses into a business for the maximization of profits has derogated from its duty to promote road safety. This is because if motorists keep to the speed limits these two companies will not be able to make any profits. Since business profits are contingent on a minimum number of traffic summonses being issued this model is incompatible with any programme to promote road safety and reduce speeding. There is thus a serious flaw in this AES Project.

Don’t maximise profits from summonses

The Ministry of Transport should not be looking to traffic summons as a profit center. The Ministry of Transport should be looking towards a study whether the speed limits are too low in the light of modern highway design. The ministry should be looking at ways to reduce speeding and road accidents.

An example is the police programme such as Ops Sikap. Road safety is improved by the physical presence of the police where a friendly warning not to speed is more effective than an injudicious mechanical taking of pictures by hidden cameras. Not all speeding is wrong. The police has on many occasions assisted motorists by acting as outriders for drivers rushing someone to the emergency ward of a hospital. The automatic cameras in the AES when implemented not only cannot assist but will issue summonses to every ambulance and fire engine rushing to save lives and property.

Money-making frenzy

This privatization of traffic summonses is an example of the Barisan Nasional Government having lost sight of its duties to the people in their feeding frenzy to make money out of every conceivable aspect of government.

I ask the Prime Minister to review this AES Project because road safety cannot be compromised and should not be turned into a business venture.

In a related matter, Dr Chua Soi Lek in his capacity as President of MCA has denied that Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd or ATES Sdn Bhd is linked to MCA. However, this project was mooted and implemented under the watch of three Ministers of Transport, all of whom are from the MCA.

I ask Dr Chua and Dato Sri Kong Cho Har, the present Minister of Transport to disclose the date this AES Project was awarded and whether the directors or shareholders of these two companies are known to the Minister or Ministers concerned.

William Leong Jee Keen is the PKR Member of Parliament for Selayang

(Source)

Leong may be harping on the wrong tree but before we analyze what Leong is saying, let’s get some facts right.

Firstly, no amount of sweet talk and soft approach will ever change the way Malaysians behave themselves on the road. Some will remain hard-core bastards to the end and they will only change once you whack them hard with a thick cane. You don’t have to go far to see these bastards in action – just count how motorcyclists riding around in your neighborhood without wearing any helmets. Strict enforcement of the law is the only way to ensure less traffic offenses committed on Malaysian roads.

Secondly, we lack an effective mean of enforcing the traffic laws. Yes, we have the police but then again, as we have seen in Ops Sikap year in, year out, we cannot expect the policemen to be around everywhere all the time and the moment the eyes of the law is nowhere to be seen, this is when the traffic laws gets abused. And it has been abused on a regular basis for some time now.

Automated Enforcement System (“AES”) should resolve this shortcoming in many ways. And there are another benefits too – by outsourcing the enforcement system on traffic offenses and verification to issue summons to private companies, the police would be freed up to do other more critical policing work. It may save them some infrastructure and logistics costs too.

Leong is contending that because the revenue of the private companies is tied to the number of summonses issued, the number of speeding violations need to be maintained not be less than 10 million each year and if they are to increase their profits and growth over the years the number of speeding violations must by necessity be increased accordingly. In other words, he implies that the number of speeding violations will be increased arbitrarily just to ensure profitability of the private companies remain unchanged and because of this, the focus of AES has gone awry. He also claims shortcomings of the AES (even before it is implemented) – that AES when implemented issue summonses to every ambulance and fire engine rushing to save lives and property. Really?

Yes, it is possible to some extent but then again, we should look at it from another point of view.

By tying the revenue of the two companies handling the camera installation to the number of summonses issued, aren’t we just ensuring effectiveness of the AES since a defective installation and poor traffic offense verification will mean less summons issued and this in turn translates to lower revenues? And by entitling a share of the fines in return for installing cameras, doesn’t this mean that the Government can opt to forgo using taxpayers funds for the installation of the cameras since these payments will now come directly from the traffic offenders?

On the onset, it does look like a win-win situation. So, instead of making general statement that the BN is out to make a profit from traffic summons and the wasteful plea to look at soft ways to reduce speeding and road accidents (Leong is really wasting his time here), Leong should be asking these questions:-

1. What is the scope of work? Will it be just installation? Or does that also include maintenance, summons and payment processing and other services as well? Are there any hidden commissions involved and we are getting the best price in the open market for that given scope of work?

2. What is the strength of the two private companies in installing the cameras for AES? It does not matter if they are directly or indirectly linked to BN but we need to know if they are competent enough to handle the enforcement system or are they going to outsource or sub-contract the work to another company and enjoy the free ride in return? What is their expertise in handling the enforcement system? What is their track record? How they were selected in the first place? Was it through an open tender or based on some kind of strict evaluation?

3. What is the detail of the payment structure? For summons issued but not collected, where the Government intends to get the funds to pay the companies the first 50%? Note that RM16.00 is to be paid for each traffic summons for the first 5 million summonses and this itself works out to RM80 million.

4. Assuming the installation cost (and surely maintenance cost) has been worked out, for how long we allow the two companies to take a share of the fines when it should be passed to the Government as an alternative source of income?

5. What is the term of the “concessionaire contract”? Has the terms of the contract been vetted through strictly to avoid the recurrence of the lopsided terms that now haunts toll concessionaire contracts? Is there any term that will allow the Government to restructure the payment terms in the future? Is there any penalty clauses incorporated to ensure that the private companies does not short-change the Government on the quality of camera installed and workmanship of the camera installation?

6. What if the projection of the summons issued (to meet the installation & maintenance cost) falls short in the coming months? What if by some miracle, Malaysians decided to behave themselves on the road and the number of summons issued drops drastically? Since the revenue of the companies is tied to number of summons, are we going to subsidize the companies for their “losses”?

7. What are assurances that the traffic users sensitive information is safe-guarded from any unauthorized party?

These are some of the questions that Leong should have asked in the first place. And wrongly branding the collection traffic summons to profit frenzy is not the right direction that we suppose to head when it comes to dealing with stubborn traffic offenders and when we are serious about reducing the fatalities on the road.

Yes, we are aware that privatization and outsourcing in the country at times riddled with cronyism, monopoly, abuse of public funds and lopsided agreements but that should not stop us from seeing the bigger picture which is to enforce the traffic law and reduce road fatalities in this country. We desperately need the automated enforcement system and we need it to implemented it to be highly efficient, strict and without any favors to the stubborn traffic offenders on the road. Let’s start with the right objective and questions in mind.

Slow Down to be Safe?


(Which is better? Slowing down or enforcement of other rules like no queue jumping using the emergency lane? One of the morons that I caught on camera, abusing the emergency lane and creating more traffic jam upfront)

I am in a dilemma…

There is a family function to attend up North this week but considering the madness expected on the highways and byways in the next few days, I was wondering whether I should take the dip into the dip of madness as well. But if I don’t go the family function, well you know how it will end up when the next family function comes along. Anyway, I probably need to toss up a coin when it comes to decide the final decision.

Talking about the madness expected on Malaysian roads in the next few days, here is an interesting proposal from the Government on how they expect to lower the fatality statistics on the road:-

The reduction of the speed limit on federal and state roads by 10kph will be reintroduced during the Hari Raya period. The speed limit on federal roads has been reduced to 80kph from 90kph while state roads will now have a 70kph speed limit until Sept 6.

The speed limits on highways are not affected.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the reduction, first introduced in 2006, was aimed at reducing the number of road accidents.

(Source)

After the many bus accidents that caused the death of many Malaysians during the holidays and after many “bright ideas and proposals” by politicians who talked alot but who don’t do anything to get it enforced, the Government has now come out with this interesting “measure” to reduce the fatalities during festive season. But is simply slowing down means the roads are much safer now?

It is a fact that slowing alone does not mean you will be safe on the road. Simply because there are many other factors that contribute to fatal accidents. If one runs through this blog, you would have known some of the said incidents that I have encountered in the past few years.

Just this morning, I almost grazed another car on the fast lane when that idiot decided to change lane without putting up any indicators. And couple weeks ago, the same thing happen when a motorcyclist decided to cut in to the fast lane without any putting up any indicators or checking it was safe to cut-in in the first place. Not putting up the indicators when wanting to switch lane has been rather cancerous with Malaysian drivers. They seems to always think that fellow drivers is able to anticipate their every move and will simply give way when they suddenly cut in onto the path of on-coming car. It gets worse during bad weather – some idiots even do not switch on their headlights, making it a guessing game to accurately judge their distance (some idiots on motorcycle even do not have rear lights on a good day).

And what about the idiots that hog the fast lane, denying others who are faster than them to safely overtake them? How many of us who may have urgent matters to attend to, have encountered such idiots who seems to be enjoying a “leisure Sunday drive” on a Monday morning at peak hours on the fast lane? Don’t you feel like giving these idiots one hard slap on their face? Denied of the space to overtake, how many of us been forced to overtake these idiots from the left, sometimes dangerously whilst at the same time feeling angry and impatient – a feeling that lingers long after we have safely overtaken this idiot and arrived at our destination.

Then we have the famed idiots who at the slightest view of a traffic jam, cut over to the emergency lane and selfishly and arrogantly cutting queue. Where do we place these idiots in the aspect of ensuring that our roads are safer for rest of us? Traffic jams, sometimes also attributed to some slow road hoggers, is part and parcel of driving. It gets worse during the holidays for obvious reasons – too many cars on the road. You need to be patient and bid your time before continuing on to the destination. Everyone wants to reach their final destination as safe as and as fast as possible. Why should we give in to some idiots who simply don’t have the patience and is very selfish and arrogant? These idiots who quickly turn the emergency lane into their private lane to bypass other law abiding road users and by cutting in at the front (due to a broken down car or police block) causing traffic jam to be even worse.

There is a reason why an accident is known as “accident”. An accident is a specific, unpredictable, unusual and unintended external action which occurs in a particular time and place, with no apparent and deliberate cause but with marked effects (Source). It is “unpredictable, unusual and unintended” – no doubt about that since if someone causes an accident intentionally (by knowingly breaking the traffic rules) and it causes someone to die, then it is not known as accident, it is known as murder or in some cases, manslaughter.

TheStar reported that for past 1 week, 117 deaths have been recorded – with no surprise, 60% of them being motorcyclists (perhaps it is how God plays his card in reducing morons on the road). I am pretty sure a good number of them did not have their helmets on. The call to reduce speed limit is good but it is only effective when enforcement of other traffic rules and ensuring that the punishment for “those stubborn ones” to be severe enough that they will not break the rules again.

So, you want to be safe? Don’t only slow down (to the correct speed!) but also keep to the correct lane and cut into the fast lane only when want to overtake others and do so when it is safe to do so. Use the indicators as part and parcel of driving and use it all the time. And never abuse the emergency lane – you never know when you will be involved in a serious accident with your loved one pinned down under the wreck and your life-saver, ambulance is stuck behind your fellow emergency lane abusers.

Selamat Hari Raya and happy holidays…

Open Letter to Datuk Suret Singh


(My usual rant of the irresponsible road users that I have encountered after coming back from a long holiday, so please bear with me)

(The face behind many road safety campaign – Datuk Suret Singh of Road Safety Department. Image source: http://protonexoraclub.blogspot.com)

Dear YB Datuk

I was not sure at first, who I should address this letter to since whenever we have major accidents on the road; too many people in high position open their mouth and want to be the champion for road safety in the country. There will be calls for stricter enforcement, others, to review the condition of the roads and vehicles but soon enough, such calls would die down and it will be back to business until the next tragedy.

Last week, I had a friend from overseas over at my house and we caught you in the news, making spot checks on express buses  – you looked unhappy and seemed to be pissed off with the conditions of the buses. My friend upon seeing you told me that you looked tough, just the right person to check on whether traffic laws are followed. So, I guess, you would be the right person for me to bring up this.

In the past few months, you have been in the limelight when it comes to improving the safety of users on the road. Early this year, you even said that drivers who stop their vehicles to gawk at accident scenes can be issued summonses and there were many of us, applauded such calls. It was high time; the enforcement part of the law is strongly enforced on road offenders.

But before I proceed further, it will good if you could take a look at the below video and couple of photos (I have more in my collection, all of which, will promptly be handed over to JPJ for their action in due course).

Have you ever seen an express bus that is not only speeding above the speed limit but also using the emergency lane rather dangerously? No? Yes? All the time? Here’s one for the record – BLB 6396.

You tell me if this is how things are handled despite the recent horrific 28 deaths and during on-going Ops Sikap (which incidentally means Operation Attitude), how do you expect to reduce accidents involving public buses? Why bother having undercover JPJ enforcement agents riding along the bus? When you have speed demons who not only endangering their life with such reckless act but also of their passengers, it will not be a big surprise to see another 28 bodies lies on the tarmac.

And to show how blatant and irresponsible people are in place of lack of enforcement, just count the number of vehicles (including one from another country) abusing the emergency lane? Where is the enforcement of the highway laws? And the video here only shows a small portion of the highway where emergency lane ended up as the “fast lane” where one probably would wonder when PLUS opened a new lane.

And Datuk, considering the field that you are in, you would understand why I have been highlighting about these emergency lane offenders every time I came back from the holidays. Others may wonder why I take the trouble highlighting these “criminals” in emails, blogs, video blogs, etc. It is not like I am getting paid for it or getting some discounts or getting a kick for fun.

And I am pretty sure these offenders would have their day to answer for their inconsiderate act of “troubling” others and putting others in danger. It is rather easy to ignore the traffic that had formed on the emergency lane and just concentrate on the road ahead; hoping that the traffic jam that had formed without notice would just go away and one can be on their way without further delay, apprehension and waste of time and fuel.

I would have done the same if not for this:-

You see, in a 2 lane highway that passes by numerous exits and entries, a 3rd improvised lane is bound to create bottle necks at some point when those who using the new lane have to cut over and return back to the proper lane (often due to police block or broken down vehicle and not because they feeling guilty about it). And there is where the problem starts for other road users. who been patiently been treading the legal lanes.

The idiots (sorry to use this word but I am sure you will share our frustrations) at the emergency lane cut into the slow lane which causes the traffic on the slow lane to slow down even further. And when the slow lane becomes slow, some of us have to contend with moving into the fast lane which ends up as another slow lane.

Ok, never mind us – we still have the legal lane to contend to but what about the people who really need to use the emergency lane. With these traffic offenders speeding through the emergency lane at speeds exceeding 100 km/h, it has become too dangerous for anyone with a broken down vehicle to even park at the emergency lanes. Just imagine the scenario – you hear a weird sound from your car and the sound seems to get only louder. You decided that it is not safe to continue to drive, so you pull over and stop at the emergency lane. You walk behind the car to inspect on something and you suddenly hear a screeching noise and before you know it, a car slams you and pin you between the two cars.

And of course, I don’t need to highlight the use of the emergency lane for the fire & rescue and ambulance service when there is major accident on the highway. Just imagine the precious minutes wasted stuck behind these idiots who clog up the emergency lane for their own personal abuse. If someone dies due to delay of rescue vehicles, will these emergency lane offenders be charged with manslaughter?

So Datuk, as you can see, there is no point educating the general public on traffic rules – you only going to get traffic rules broken on a regular basis. There is no point making the necessary research on how to make the roads and vehicles safer. You are only going to waste time and money and given the conditions of the roads and vehicles in Malaysia, they are already above the condition of some countries with lower fatality rate than Malaysia.

The only way to ensure road users abide by the rules is to improve on the enforcement of the rules. As I watched the many traffic rules offenders abusing the emergency lane as I was traveling back, my only regret is that there was no enforcement officers on sight. There was no road blocks, there was no traffic policemen chasing and booking these traffic offenders – too bad, we could have made the killing in summons. There was nothing to stop the abuse. Perhaps summons have became too cheap for these frequent, hardcore traffic offenders. Perhaps getting home early was more important than being considerate and safe on the road.

Datuk, I am pretty sure you will share my concern here and I hope in the course of heading the Road Safety Department to be more efficient, you would look deeply into the area of enforcement and ways to tighten the loopholes. Change of attitude can also happen due to the thick, long stroke of the cane.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

(A frustrated highway user)